The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 29, 2010

Carlisle School plaza to close, main entrance to shift when construction begins in February

How will students navigate the campus during the building project? Where will recess be held once the plaza is closed? Where will visitors park? Superintendent Joyce Mehaffey discussed temporary access issues when she spoke with parents attending a superintendent’s coffee on October 20. Some were surprised to learn of the changes coming in February and one parent said she had had “no idea how big the impact would be.”

Mehaffey explained that after the February vacation the school campus “would be divided in half.” The Robbins Building and the Spalding Building will still be accessible, but the front of the Wilkins Building will be blocked off. The main office would be closed off and the plaza would be inaccessible.

Before the February vacation break, Principal Patrice Hurley will relocate to an office in the guidance suite in the Robbins Building, and Assistant to the Superintendent Claire Wilcox will move into Hurley’s office, Mehaffey explained. The volunteer badge board will also be moved.

A new temporary main entrance to the Wilkins Building will be cut through Wilcox’s current office and the new door will be installed during the vacation. Her office is on the side of Wilkins closest to the Robbins Building. “Isn’t that where the huge puddle forms?” asked a parent. Mehaffey agreed that part of the walkway gets very wet during rainstorms. When students return from the break, there will be construction staging on the plaza, Mehaffey said. Visitors coming to the school must enter through the new entrance.

Privacy in the guidance office

Parents asked about privacy in the guidance suite when students spend time with the psychologists. “It will be worked out,” said Mehaffey, saying there are small meeting spaces in the Robbins suite. She said a part-time psychologist and a part-time foreign language instructor will share an office, making space for Hurley. “Privacy will be maintained, and we will do what is best for students,” Mehaffey said. In a discussion about other available spaces one parent joked that she had “heard there were tables available at Ferns.”

Longer route to Corey

After the February break, students will not be able to walk across the plaza to get to the Corey Building for lunch, music or gym. Instead, explained Mehaffey, all students, whether in Spalding, Robbins or Wilkins, will exit the Wilkins Building via a back side stairway. The students will walk behind the Corey Building and enter via a set of stairs by the loading dock. “We did a practice run and the kids did a great job,” said Mehaffey.

The stairs both by Wilkins and at the loading dock will have additional railings and roofs added to increase safety and protection from weather, explained Mehaffey. Currently there are no students in wheelchairs, but arrangements could be made to transport handicapped students to the Corey Building if necessary, she added.

Mehaffey said that the travel time is longer using the new routes and observed that it took Linda Vanaria’s first-grade class an extra five minutes to get to the Corey Building. She is asking teachers to do “mini-field trips” with their students to practice. In some cases, said Mehaffey, the music teacher may come to the classroom rather than have the students make the journey to Corey.

A parent expressed concern that the loading dock does not have a railing. Another parent said he was sure the kids would try jumping off the edge. “It must continue to be a loading dock,” replied Mehaffey. “We can’t block the edge.” She said she would look into temporary fencing of some sort.

Parents wanted to know if students would be walking the route alone. “No,” said Mehaffey, “not without an escort.” Another parent said students might try to walk around the Corey Building via the driveway in order to enter the gym on the side. “That’s not going to be an option,” said Mehaffey. A parent expressed skepticism that older students would not try that route.

Workers CORI’d

Mehaffey told parents that all construction workers will be checked through the Criminal Offender Record Information Act (CORI). Asked what would happen if a worker failed their CORI check, Mehaffey said Owner Project Manager Sean Fennell would be doing spot checking to confirm that all workers are cleared.

Recess options

Mehaffey said that though the plaza will not be available for recess, the Castle playground will continue to be used for the younger students. The SBC is talking with the Historical Commission about a plan to use an area beyond the swings and closer to Church Street for the older students’ recess. In bad weather, the younger students may continue to be brought to the gym for lunch recess. One parent, the lunch and recess coordinator, suggested holding a meeting for volunteers. “They will have no clue what to do,” she said.

Parking will be reduced

After the February break there will be no parking in the Spalding Circle on School Street, explained Mehaffey, because it will be used as the bus drop-off and pick-up zone and will be inaccessible to cars. Special handicapped parking will be by the Highland Building. Parents expressed concern about the traffic speed on School Street. “How can we keep the kids from the road?” asked one parent. Another noted that cars “fly down that road.” Mehaffey said that she hears their concerns and explained there will be staff leading students to the buses. In addition, the school is asking the police to monitor the speed. One parent suggested ticketing parents to encourage everyone to slow down.

One parent asked, “If I pick up my child, where do I go?” Mehaffey said that the first entrance to the regular parking lot will be closed. Student pickup will not be at the flagpole, said Mehaffey. A new spot will be communicated to parents. A parent noted that if she parks in the regular parking lot, she has to find her way up Church Street, past the Carlisle Castle and then walk up School Street to the Wilkins office.

Other parents expressed concern about people coming up the Corey stairs, entering the Corey Building and wandering through the back into Wilkins while trying to find the main office. One parent suggested marking a path through the Castle to get to School Street, but Mehaffey explained that the parking lot by the Castle will be fenced off as a construction staging zone. Mehaffey later said that they may consider locking the Corey front doors, allowing exits but not entrances, for security reasons.

One parent suggested Mehaffey post a map explaining how to get from the parking lot to the office. “Maybe use some arrows,” said another parent. One suggestion was to have students in teams of three so no student is left behind as they travel. Mehaffey said that the staff will have a list and will check to be sure all students are accounted for. “It’s exciting,” said a parent, “but it’s a lot to deal with.” ∆

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